- Prime Minister the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller on Tuesday (February 2) signed six contracts with a combined value of $182 million for the rehabilitation of 22 farm roads across Jamaica.
- Emphasising that farm roads are important to the livelihood and wellbeing of farmers, their families and their communities, the Prime Minister added that improving farm roads is a vital element in the ongoing expansion of the agriculture sector.
- Managing Director of Dwight Construction, Mr. Benton Woodbine who responded on behalf of the contractors thanked the Government for affording them the opportunity to participate in the programme.
Prime Minister the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller on Tuesday (February 2) signed six contracts with a combined value of $182 million for the rehabilitation of 22 farm roads across Jamaica.
Speaking at the National Farm Roads Rehabilitation Programme contract signing held at Jamaica House, Mrs. Simpson Miller noted that the programme is consistent with the development priorities of the Government of Jamaica and will positively address the state of farm roads while contributing to sustainable and viable agricultural activity.
“The attention to farm roads is an important part of my Government’s commitment to rural development. As part of the commitment, I appointed the National Task Force for Rural Development, based right here in the Office of the Prime Minister” Mrs. Simpson Miller said.
Emphasising that farm roads are important to the livelihood and wellbeing of farmers, their families and their communities, the Prime Minister added that improving farm roads is a vital element in the ongoing expansion of the agriculture sector.
The contract signing represents phase two of the three-phased programme to repair 41 priority roads across the island. Phase two will see farm roads in ten parishes namely Portland, St. James, Westmoreland, Trelawny, Clarendon, St. Thomas, St. Ann, St. Catherine and St. Mary being repaired. The entire National Farm Roads Rehabilitation Programme is to see $1.2 billion being invested in farm roads across Jamaica, directly and indirectly impacting more than 220,000 farmers in the long run.
Mrs. Simpson Miller explained the activities to be undertaken include resurfacing, patching, cleaning, construction and improvement of drainage, as well as general maintenance.
A total of $100 million has already been invested in phase one of the programme which saw the rehabilitation of seven roads in farming communities in Manchester, St. Thomas, St. Andrew, St. James and St. Elizabeth. Phase three of the programme will cover all thirteen parishes outside of Kingston.
Also addressing the signing, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries the Hon. Derrick Kellier called the contract signing, “A very tangible and very important step in the drive to pursue our commitment to sustainable food security for the people of Jamaica, even as we continue to grow the sector and make it a strong pillar of the economy.”
Outlining some of the strides made by the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Kellier cited, among other achievements, the decline of the food import bill by some 6.4 per cent last year and a resulting cost savings of $5 billion; the planned expansion of agro parks; a nearly $2 billion investment in new irrigation systems in the agro-parks and other farming areas, and an injection of $6 billion in the Sugar Transformation Programme to upgrade houses, schools, libraries, clinics, sport facilities, water supplies and other community infrastructure.
In his comments, State Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, the Hon. Luther Buchanan described the signing as historic, stating that the rehabilitation of farm roads is a key aspect of the overall strategy for Jamaica’s rural development programme.
Updating on the work of the 21-member Rural Development Taskforce which was appointed by the Prime Minister to alleviate poverty and promote development in rural communities, Mr. Buchanan disclosed that the group has been working on the formulation of a draft Rural Development Policy.
Contractors participating in today’s signing included Surrey Paving and Aggregates; Patrick E. Thompson Limited; Construction Solutions and Dwight Construction Limited.
Managing Director of Dwight Construction, Mr. Benton Woodbine who responded on behalf of the contractors thanked the Government for affording them the opportunity to participate in the programme.
“Most of us are from the rural areas, therefore we really don’t just see ourselves as contractors, we really feel like partners,” he said, while giving the commitment to complete the projects on time, within budget and within specifications.
Among the roads to be rehabilitated are:
Hanover – Burnt Ground
Portland – Passley Gardens and Claverty Cottage
Trelawny – Dryland Road
Westmoreland- Cruz Road and Grange to Duckett
St. Elizabeth – Pizgah to Ginger Grove, and Genius and Redbank
St. Ann- Lime Tree Gardens Road, Retirement Road, Barnstaple Road
St. James – Roper to Seven River Road
St. Catherine – Springfield to Golden Grove, Krawl to Trojah
St. Mary – Greenhood, Charlottenburgh, Ilerboreal